Tag Archives: iftar

5 Tips for Students Fasting

By Mona Ismaeil

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Ramadan is just around the corner and with still a month of school to go, Ramadan joins us at a crucial time of the school year. Our children are the future of our Deen and it is essential we keep them excited, motivated and passionate about the practices of our Faith. At the same time, it is incredibly important to encourage education as a way of pushing our Ummah forward to more greatness.

Early mornings, attending classes, worksheets and exams are still business as usual. Here are some tips to help our students master it all.

  1. Inform: Inform teachers, advisors and fellow students of Ramadan. When others know, they can offer our students support. Also, by letting others know, our students can feel empowered.
  2. Diet: It is essential that our students have the fuel to get through the long days. Although it is hard to wake your child up for Suhoor, please do so! As an incentive to them to get up, prepare meals they enjoy eating that will give them good energy for the day to come.
  3. Support/Encouragement: It is very difficult to be the only child in the class fasting or one of just a handful. Be sure to offer your little one the greatest amount of support and encouragement possible. Remind them continuously that what they are doing is a big thing and you are proud of them.  Try different reward systems and trackers to help them see how many days they have successfully fasted.
  4. Be flexible: For young children below the age of maturity (puberty), encourage them to abide by the practice but still give them space for mistakes, accidents and just being children. School is a hard job and children get hungry and thirsty.  Although they are fasting, leave a small snack in their backpacks in case of emergency. By emergency, I mean they ran so hard during gym class that they feel dizzy and sick.  Remember there will be days when fasting just isn’t a good idea.  For example: big exam days, big presentations or generally stressful days.
  5. Educate: Children are much more inclined to do things when they understand why they are doing it. Explain to your children why we fast during Ramadan. Share with them some health benefits too as a bonus!

These children are the future of our Ummah. Inshallah with your support and guidance your children will be righteous Muslims.

About the Author

Mona Ismaeil is  the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary  teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a witty 3 year old girl and a sweet newborn boy. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.

The First Days of Fasting

By Saraa Mahfouz

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I felt excitement when I learned that I will be fasting that Ramadan. I was almost 9 years old and Ramadan was during the winter months. The days were shorter and the breeze became cooler.

I remember telling my mom what I wanted for Suhoor; a bowl of my favourite cereal and glass of juice. When my dad woke me up with a slight knocking at the door and coming to my bedside speaking quietly, I immediately jumped out of bed. We sat together at the breakfast table and started eating. My dad reminded me to make the intention and then smiled at me proudly. It was almost time to for school and I brushed my teeth and headed out to the world.

The first thing I did as I got to school was rush to my teacher and tell her I was fasting and that I couldn’t eat or drink all day. My teacher seemed happy but confused as she didn’t know what was going on. She asked if I can explain more and maybe do a presentation to the class. I was really excited and nervous at the same time. At that time I was the only student in the school who wore a hijab. There were other Muslims in the school and many were fasting as well.

After the morning announcements were made my teacher called on me to come up to the class and explain what Ramadan was. I walked slowly to the front of the class and started telling my classmates about how I will fast for the month, no eating or drinking from morning until evening. Of course my knowledge of the subject was limited at that age but I explained to them that I was fasting to recognize the children in the world who don’t have food. Many of the students asked if they can fast as well. It was an exciting feeling and I felt proud of myself. The next day almost the whole class said they were fasting!

Fast forward 15 years later. I have my own classroom and my own set of students. The first day of Ramadan came during the fall. It was the first week of school and Ramadan had already begun. My students were the same age as me when I first fasted and the excitement was the same if not more. This time all the students in my class were Muslim but all of them had different cultural traditions. Students came rushing to me in the morning to tell me they were fasting with the same speed that I once had.

I imagined myself running through those doors excitedly telling my teacher. The students were proud that they were fasting and most of them knew they were fasting for the same reason and more. They wanted to decorate and sing Ramadan songs. They wanted to share their stories of breaking their fast with their families. I looked at them with pride the same way my father did that first morning of fasting. I thought to myself that I couldn’t wait to share the traditions with my own little family.

About the Author

Saraa Mahfouz is a mom of two boys (3 and 1) and is expecting a girl in July. She has been an elementary teacher for 6 years and has a passion for sharing her thoughts and experiences with others.  She started blogging in her university years but motherhood and her two busy boys have since become her first priority. Saraa also dabbled in photography for some time. She is very excited to get back into writing and sharing her passion with the muslimmoms.ca community.

Eat Wisely This Ramadan

By Arooj Ali

Eating Healthy

photo credit: raasiel via photopin cc

Fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan has many benefits – spiritually, physically, psychologically as well as socially.  However, there can be serious health problems if fasting and the breaking of fast are not carried out sensibly.

In long hours of fasting, we should consume slow digesting foods that are rich in fibre, instead of fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours in our system, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours.

Food groups to mind in Ramadan

Slow-digesting foods contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal flour, unpolished rice, etc. They are also called complex carbohydrates.

Foods to avoid during this month include heavily processed and fast-burning foods that contain refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour or fattening snacks like cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets.

It is also better to avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and cola since caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates faster water loss through urination.

Fibre-rich foods contain bran – whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, marrow, corn, spinach, and other herbs like methi (fenugreek), leaves of beet root (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, almonds, etc.

Food eaten should be well-balanced, containing something from each food group, i.e. fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heart-burn, and weight problems.

Foods to avoid

-Fried and fatty foods such as french fries, sweets, fried samosa, pakoras, parathas, greasy curries and biryani. High-fat foods are high in calories and are nutrient deficient which will lead to an imbalanced diet, thereby increasing sluggishness and fatigue during Ramadan.

-Too much tea or coffee at suhoor. Both of these are diuretics when consumed in large quantities and the body can lose valuable minerals, salts and fluids that you need throughout the day.

- Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, energy drinks or cola after Iftar, instead drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself adequately hydrated – plain water and fresh fruits juices are good.

-Avoid eating fried and salty foods, they are unhealthy and might make you thirstier during the day as you fast.

-Avoid excessive exercise during fasting times – if you want to go to the gym, consider doing so after Iftar.

-Stop speed eating at suhoor, take it easy, it is not an eating contest!

photo credit: Samad Jee ( www.pakmusic.net ) via photopin cc

photo credit: Samad Jee  via photopin cc

Health Concerns

If you have chronic health problems (diabetes, cancer, heart disease etc.), are pregnant or lactating, or are over 65 it is advisable to seek medical attention before starting your fast. Medications often require some adjustment. Vitamins and mineral supplements may be added to help ensure nutritional adequacy during fasting. Also keep in mind:

- Adequate fibre helps reduce gastric acidity and maintains digestion regularity. Include dates, granola, fruits and nuts in your diet.

- To minimize heartburn and indigestion avoid spicy foods and greasy high-fat foods.

- Eat small portions and space your courses over time to minimize blood sugar and blood lipid fluctuations.

- Avoid overeating sweets and high sugar foods which may interfere with blood sugar control and alertness.

A balanced Ramadan diet

Pre-Suhoor: Should be eaten within first 2-3 minutes of waking up, even if there is an interval of 45 minutes between waking up and azan. For pre- Suhoor you need to sleep at night. In case you miss on the sleep, you can proceed to eat your Suhoor meal directly and skip pre-Suhoor snack.

Choose four options for your pre-Suhoor meals and follow a rotational pattern. Also make sure you drink at least 2-3 glasses of water between pre-Suhoor and eating your Suhoor meal.

Tea or coffee can be taken 5-10 minutes before taking Suhoor meal.

Suhoor: Eat wisely, do not eat cookies , pheni, yogurt, or lassi every day. It’s better to take roti or whole wheat bread with egg, kebob, potato cutlets or bhujia, cheese, butter, honey, gravy or yogurt on a four days’ rotational plan.

Vegetable stuffed paratha, though better than a plain one, should be taken only twice a week. If you do not feel like eating a heavy meal, you can opt between wheat daliya (cracked wheat or bulgur), milk shake, yogurt shake, smoothies and raw cane sugar (shukkar) – just take a very fulfilling Suhoor meal.

Also include a few sips of green tea with some shukkar in this meal. Patients who are on medications can take their dose with a little water after eating their Suhoor.

Iftar: Avoid white flour products and do not mix sweet and salty foods.

If you break your fast with sweet foods like dates, fruit salad, milk drinks, juices, lassi, shakes, cold coffee or lemonade then take your dinner after 30-60 minutes.  Water has to be taken before dinner. Take salty foods with your dinner or break your fast with all the salty foods like pakoray, chana chat, dahi barey but avoid dates and drinks. Now fruits or desserts will come three and half hours after dinner.

Frying should be in the olive oil. Do not deep fry and avoid flour products like samosa, rolls or sandwiches that absorb a lot of oil.

Healthy alternates to popular Ramadan food

Foods to avoid and alternates

 

Remember, Ramadan is an excellent time for beginning and maintaining proper balance in your life!

 

About the author:

Dr Arooj Ali is a health coach, nutrition consultant, weight management and raw food expert. She has free diet plans on her website: Ali Diet & Health Clinic.

Healthy Diet During Ramadan

By Shaista Tariq

Image: Freeimages

Image: Freeimages

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting.  This annual observance is regarded as one of the five Pillars of Islam. The holiest of months, Ramadan lasts 29-30 days based on visual sightings of the crescent moon and it is a very special time for Muslims.

During fasting, we  abstain ‘completely’ from foods and drinks before the break of the dawn till sunset, for an entire month.

Benefits of Fasting

  1. Fasting rests the digestive system: During fasting, we rest our system from the constant onslaught of food.
  2. Fasting allows for cleansing and detoxification of the body: We get rid of the build-up of toxins in the body, as a result of pollutants in the air we breathe, chemicals in food and water we consume and other means. Fasting can detoxify and repair cells, tissues and organs, eliminating natural metabolic wastes (which are also toxins) produced by even healthier cells.
  3. Fasting creates a break in eating patterns: It gives one the opportunity to get over the many addictions which have become a major part of modern life e.g. tea, coffee, cola, and smoking. For instance, caffeine, found in teas and coffee, is a diuretic, it stimulates water loss through urination. Through fasting we can cut down on our caffeine intake.
  4. Increased energy levels: Fasting will lead to a feeling of physical lightness, increasing energy level.

A Balanced Diet

Dr Razeen Mahroof, an anaesthetist from Oxford, says that your food intake should be simple and not differ too much from your normal diet. It should contain foods from all the major food groups:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • bread, cereals and potatoes
  • meat, fish, or alternatives
  • milk and dairy foods
  • foods containing fat and sugar
Image: Salam Stock

Image: Salam Stock

Wholesome foods at Suhoor…

Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, should be a wholesome, moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and make you feel less hungry during the day, which again keeps you feeling full for longer.

Suhoor should be light and include slow digesting food like pita bread, salad, cereal (especially oats) or toast so that you have a constant release of energy,” says Dr Mahroof.

“It’s important to have some fluids with vitamins, such as fruit juice or fruit. Some people have isotonic drinks to replace any lost salts.”

If you are not careful, food eaten during the pre-dawn and dusk meals can cause weight gain.

…and Iftar 

All experts agree that ‘breaking fast’  or Iftar is a critical phase of fasting. Solid food must be reintroduced very slowly. It’s customary for Muslims to break their fast with dates, in accordance with Prophetic traditions. They are also known to provide a burst of energy.

Fruit juices will also have a similar, revitalizing effect. Start by drinking plenty of water, which helps in rehydration and reduces chances of overindulgence. Avoid  rich, special dishes that are traditionally made to break the fast.

Digesting, assimilating and metabolizing are activities that require a great deal of energy. It is estimated that 65% of the body’s energy must be directed to the digestive organs after a heavy meal. By reintroducing solids gradually, many problems such as belching, indigestion and acidity can be avoided.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to consume a very light meal before dawn and a moderate meal at Iftar to break his fast at sunset, while scrupulously avoiding  a full stomach.

Foods To Avoid

We are often tempted by the sights and smells of rich, special food and snacks but we would be better off if we avoided certain kinds of food at Iftar:

  • deep-fried foods, for example pakoras, samosas and fried dumplings
  • high-sugar and high-fat foods, including sweets such as gulab jamun, rasgulla and balushahi
  • high-fat cooked foods, for example, parathas, oily curries and greasy pastries

The underlying message behind Ramadan is self-discipline and self-control.There are ways to ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs so you can remain safe and healthy during your fast.

Another key factor in maintaining optimum health during fast is to limit your physical activity. Exercise only moderately, and rest as much as your schedule will permit. Short naps are helpful as well.

A healthy Ramadan is one where you achieve a calmness of mind and strength of character but also are able to maintain good physical health.

Have a happy and healthy Ramadan !

About the author:

Shaista Tariq is an M.Sc., B.Sc. in Applied Science in Nutrition and a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.